on 8 October 2012
I have tried like mad to get this documentary. I'd even have paid additional customs duty on the (German) film. Beware, this is NTSC format but using VLC on my Mac allowed unlimited playing of this DVD. I'm glad of this as I have already played it three times this weekend. What a fabulous documentary, told by the boys themselves. I cannot praise it enough. It is well worth the money. I was lucky enough to see/hear them in Manchester recently singing the St Matthew Passion. I followed this with the Vienna Boys Choir. There was no comparison. The Viennese were technically brilliant but lacked the humanity of the Thomaner boys. One of the younger Thomaner boys even waved at the audience at the end. It was good to hear/watch Oskar relate how the applause given at the end of a recital was just thanksgiving for all the extra hours the boys/ young men had given. Herr Biller, though unwell, was his inspirational self. I cannot praise this DVD enough. I leave the praise to others apart from suggesting that Bach is alive and well through the choir and the cantor.
on 7 January 2013
This recently-issued DVD - Die Thomaner ("the members of St Thomas's Boys' Choir") - is a very interesting documentary about the famous boys' choir based in Leipzig. Originally established in 1212 attached to a monastery, the choir celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2012. It currently has about 80 boys.
The documentary film, made in 2010, provides an insight into the everyday life of the choir over a period of one academic year, starting on the day of arrival of the youngest ones and ending on the day of graduation of the oldest ones. The choristers go through rigorous daily training and weekly services, while attending normal academic classes at St Thomas's School, a co-ed grammar school (Gymnasium). They also travel on performing tour to South America. There are interviews with some boys - candidly expressing their hopes and disappointments - as well as with the Music Director ("cantor") and school administrators.
It is well-known that even the then harsh and atheistic East German regime maintained the choir, although many other boys' choirs in the country were closed during those dark decades. Having been directed by Bach himself in his Leipzig years until his death, the choir keeps the tradition of performing works of Bach, as well as other composers, at St Thomas's Church every week.
Since I have collected many excellent recordings of Bach's works (cantatas, Mass in B minor, two passions, etc.) made by the choir, this DVD is of particular interest to me. I feel certain that the viewer will gain insight into the inner workings of this world-famous boys' choir.